But this month, when word leaked of a potential Supreme Court turnabout, President Biden was unequivocal and practiced in his language choices. “I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental,” he said. “Basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned.”

A few left-leaning congressional representatives have adopted movement language. Representative Cori Bush, Democrat of Missouri, testified last year about “birthing people.” But it is far more common to hear senators and congressional representatives, female and male alike, refer to women. “We cannot go back to the days when women had to risk their lives to end an unwanted pregnancy,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist who represents Vermont.

Prof. Laurel Elder of Hartwick College and Prof. Steven Greene of North Carolina State University have studied the growth of feminist identity by age and education. Many young activists, Professor Elder noted, reject male and female distinctions altogether. “But,” she said, “the reality is that the larger society is not there yet.”

Professor Greene questioned the wisdom of activists in insisting that a mass-based movement discard its base and core sexual identity. Why not, for instance, insist that women and transgender men are each embattled when it comes to abortion?

“Activists are adopting symbols and language that are off-putting not just to the right but to people in the center and even liberals,” he noted.

For this reason he was not surprised when most Democratic politicians declined to echo the language of progressive organizations. “You don’t become a candidate for the presidency or speaker of the House by being dumb about what works in politics,” he said. “Democrats were not going to be afraid to use the word ‘women.’”

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